Archive for July, 2011

28
Jul
11

the great mope of 2011

Since injuring my foot in an unfortunate tree root / foot interface towards the tail end of Juneathon, I have been experiencing what the experts refer to as “Running Envy”. The symptoms of this cruel affliction are, firstly, the inability to run oneself. This gives rise to feelings of inadequecy, a rejection of anything running related and the involuntary act of muttering “bastard” under ones breath whenever someone else is observed running. Sufferers of this condition often transfer their fixation with running onto other sports. As an example, the “Running Envy” victim may avoid all running related pastimes, including such things as not reading blog posts, and instead focus his obsession on some unrelated sport, for example cycling and the Tour De France, he may read blogs related to cycling like the always excellent Bike Snob and perhaps even take part in silly long-distance overnight bicycling events himself.
Which is all very well, but when said silly long distance overnight bicycling event leaves your bike with an annoying creak and the need for replacement parts, any kind of participation in this surrogate sporting activity becomes difficult in itself. So when my new bottom bracket and cranks arrived, I was keen to get them replaced as soon as possible. When I had first built the bike, I wanted it to be as “original” as possible, keeping and re-using as many of the original parts as I could and retaining the spirit of the original 30+ year old contraption. As I have now done over a thousand kilometres on the bike, wear and tear has begun to take it’s toll and I have realised that a 30 year old cottered crankset may not be the best solution to turning the wheels. So the cranks and bottom bracket were replaced and then the bike taken out for a spin last night. The pedalling feels so much smoother and it is obvious now that the old bottom bracket was literally on it’s last legs. Like an overdue visit to the Opticians, you don’t realise how bad things have got until they are suddenly put right.
And, despite still having pain in my foot, it does at last appear to be getting better. So after flunking out on my “one running race per month for 2011” commitment in July. I hope to be getting back to some tentative running in time for the Bearbrook 10k in a couple of weeks time.
Ohh… look! What’s that over there? Looks like… Looks like my Mojo. I think I’ll go and get it back…

Soundtrack to this post: Augustus Pablo – Tippa Tone Blues

Advertisements
20
Jul
11

dunwich dynamo – through the dark and into the light

By the time I met up with Hauling My Carcass, I was actually quite scared. For months, this day had been lurking in my subconcious and now it was here. I had trained and prepared and was as ready as I could be but still there was something daunting and unknown about a 200km bike ride in the dark from Hackney to Suffolk.
We met under a huge pub garden umbrella just by Blackfriars. So far, things had not gone well: the restaurant that I had booked for our pre-ride feast was closed and it was now pouring with rain. So hard that the rain was hitting the ground and bouncing back up. And we were huddled under an umbrella with just our bikes and backpacks for company for the rest of the weekend.
We ate some food from the pub and set off on our bikes to London Fields. By this time the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. If only the rain could stay away until 10am the following morning.
Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of 1000+ cyclists and their bikes completely filling the area around the start of the ride. The ride is free and is organised but not marshalled… even the organisers don’t know how many will participate and there is a sense of collective purpose and a little bit of chaos as we all wait for some sign that people are beginning to start the ride. It is not a race and people seem to wait for the arrival of the “Map Lady”, buy their route map and then head off. I stood chatting with someone who seemed to be travelling very light – his bike plus whatever he could stuff into the rear pockets of his lycra cycling top. I laughed and showed him my packed backpack… I explained that I was intending to be entirely self sufficient with enough food, water, tools and spare tubes to cope with every eventuality until I could get the coach home. He told me he was riding to Dunwich, turning round and riding back to London. Suddenly I felt like a complete amateur.
Soon there was movement in the crowd and people began to leave. We grabbed our bags and bikes, wished each other luck and set off, following the throng up Martello St and out into Hackney and then North East London. There is a sense of anticipation at the beginning, most people are in good spirits and are chatting to their friends. The first 15-20kms takes you out through London and Essex and there is a mixture of bemused looks, encouragement and abuse from drivers and passers-by.
Once out past Epping, the roads quieten and the sky begins to darken. This is one of the best bits of the ride as the pre-ride nerves have gone and everyone is looking forward to what lies ahead.
Before long, it is dark and you see for the first time the line of flashing red lights snaking off in front of you as far as the eye can see. It is a truly amazing sight and one that I imagine stays with you.
We had decided to break the ride up into 50km chunks and our first stop was outside a well lit garage. We were like moths to a flame, ate some of our food, added a few layers as the temperature was dropping and set off again.
The next 50k passed in a bit of a blur, the roads even quieter now as the route becomes more remote and most sensible people are tucked up in bed. The roads are quiet enough to ride side by side and chat, so we did. Our next stop was at just under 90kms… an “official” stop that was a village hall serving food and drinks. We wanted tea and coffee but the queues were so long we satisfied ourselves with more food and drink from our bags before setting off again. It was hard to get going again as it was now quite cold and sweaty cycling gear does not provide an enormous amount of warmth. Just as we were getting going, my worst nightmare happened. HMC swerved to avoid some glass in the road, hit a curb and punctured his tyre regardless… we now had to fix the puncture in the cold and dark at the side of the road. Fortunately. we had spare tubes so it was a relatively simple operation and we were back on the road after about 10 minutes. From this point, HMC entered his darkest hours. He was finding it tough going and I was surprised that I wasn’t suffering too. It turns out that my suffering was to come later…
It is now the darkest point of the ride, all banter stops and everyone seems to go into themselves and just concentrate on pushing the pedals. My bike had developed an annoying creak from one of the cranks so I kept myself going by singing to myself and using the incessant creak as a kind of annoying metronome. A female cyclist pulled alongside me, turned and said “That noise that your bike is making is how I feel”. Clearly she was suffering too.
The sun began to come up and HMC’s mood lifted. Mine plumetted. Suddenly I had no energy. Even slight inclines were an effort. I wasn’t having much fun any more. Another food stop and then the final push.
There is a signpost that points the way to Dunwich. It is much photographed. I imagine some people may actually kiss it. “Dunwich 7 miles”. Except some comedian had got creative with some black electical tape and turned it into “Dunwich 71 miles”. The end was in sight and we just went hell for leather to get there.
And suddenly it’s over. A long country road, a gravelly track and you are on the beach at Dunwich. We locked the bikes, shared the now customary post race man hug and then changed and joined the queue for food. Never underestimate the healing properties of a bread roll and a mug of tea.
The end is a mixture of exhaustion and elation and, once revitalised, the ability of speech returned and we were already discussing the arrangements for next year.
Speaking of which, HMC has written a blog about the ride here. His contains many lovely photographs and, crucially, a list of reminders which I shall refer back to prior to doing it again next year. It is tough, but not as tough as you imagine. You could do it with a little training. Why not join us?

Soundtrack to this post: Rain – The Cult

04
Jul
11

preparation, preparation, preparation…

I almost called this blog post Le Tour De Surrey but decided against it at the last minute…
Last year, Hauling My Carcass and I completed the London to Brighton Cycle ride. We had built ourselves some bikes (him a singlespeed and me a fixed gear) and there was a certain sense of satisfaction to be gained from completing the ride and doing it on something that you have created. Not long after, HMC brought my attention to the Dunwich Dynamo – a 200km, overnight, unmarshalled and unmarked ride to Dunwich in Suffolk from a pub in Hackney. “Not this year, you understand, but we could enter next year…”
Fast forward 12 months and it is almost upon us… 200km on a pushbike is a long way by anyone’s standards. It is longer than many of the stages of the Tour De France. It is also overnight. And we are not, I repeat NOT, finely honed athletes training full time. And we do not have top of the range, super light, race bikes… we have opted to build another couple of bikes and use those. Both are steel, both are at least 30 years old, both are now singlespeed.
We decided that we probably ought to do a bit of training before embarking on this little adventure so a 77.87km bike ride was executed on day 5 of Juneathon, followed 2 weeks later by the 85.98kms of the London to Brighton. It was strange how last year, the focus was on completing the London to Brighton and this year it was relegated to “a bit of training” for Dunwich Dynamo. We decided that we needed an additional long ride, with everything that we would need to take for DD to give us a good idea of what to expect.
At 8am yesterday, I arrived at HMC’s house with my bike in the boot of the car and a massive back pack containing food (lots of food), tools, waterproof jacket, bottle of water, hydration pack and an entire change of clothes. This was what I was planning to take to Dunwich so this is what I would train with. We set off just after 9am and made our way through the undulating Surrey and Sussex countryside, basically heading south. The route was mostly country roads and surprisingly quiet considering the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. A quick stop around 50kms and then we pushed on to 80kms when we finally stopped for lunch. We perched ourselves on a grassy bank outside a golf club on the outskirts of Ditchling and had lunch. Half an hour later, we were back on the bikes and, now heading East then North and with approximately 60kms still to ride, we decided that we would do two stretches of 30kms each with a little rest in between. At around 115kms we stopped for 10 minutes and agreed that we needed to find a place to buy Coca Cola… strangely we both began to crave it and maybe it was our bodies crying out for liquid and sugar and caffeine. Cola safely procured a couple of kms later, we then pushed through the last 30kms which contained one of the most horrific hills I have ever had the misfortune to have to cycle up. Steep, long and with a surface like an adolescents complexion it was really tough and saw us both dismounting, walking slowly whilst pushing the bikes and cursing.
Psychologically, the last 15kms or so is easy. and it was nice to be back somewhere I recognised and could almost picture how far we had left to go. We arrived back at 5.30 pm having completed 147.76kms. We were both weary but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be (helped immensely by the nice route plan by HMC and the almost perfect weather). Dunwich Dynamo is 50kms further but less hilly. The real test will be cycling through the night, but with under 2 weeks to go, I am feeling much more confident of completing it than I did.




RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Fit Artist

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Ware2Barefoot

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

contact

Vision Treadmills at Fitness Superstore

Advertisements